From uplifting plays to sparkling pantos and from brilliant concerts to velvet-voiced choirs, live shows are the best way to tap into the spirit of the festive season. This year, the stages of Vancouver and beyond are hosting a full playbill of amazing options––and now is the time to book your tickets.
But what are those options? While researching our 2023 Vancouver Christmas Guide––we’re now in our seventh year––we discovered a huge variety of local shows to consider. Read on for some of our favourites, and keep your eye on the Shows section of our site for more––plus lots of chances to win free tickets.
A traditional festive entertainment, pantomimes are an ideal reason to round-up the family for a holly jolly great time. Kids of all ages will love Sinbad! at Marpole’s charming Metro Theatre. There’s also Cinderella, presented by the Royal Canadian Theatre Company, which is running at Surrey Arts Centre and New Westminster’s Massey Theatre.
And don't miss the Cultch’s ever-popular East Van Panto. On stage at their York Theatre venue on Commercial Drive, this year’s show is Beauty and the Beast. Once again it’s a whip-smart fusion of songs, kid-friendly giggles and satirical belly laughs for adults.
Family night out
Also consider taking the family to Richmond’s Gateway Theatre for their delightful version of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella, a magical musical extravaganza. Musical fans should also book for Langley’s Theatre in the Country production of A Christmas Carol: The Musical (dinner theatre option also available).
Or check out the Firehall Arts Centre for their production of Reflections on Crooked Walking, a much-anticipated revival of a musical charmer that was a celebrated holiday show in Vancouver in the 1980s. Alternatively, book everyone in for the Vancouver Academy of Music Symphony Orchestra’s performance of the score from How the Grinch Stole Christmas and more at downtown’s grand Orpheum Theatre.
Plays and more
Personally, we’re also really looking forward to another revival that’s coming back this holiday season. Pacific Theatre is celebrating its 40th season by restaging one of its most popular past show: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe.
We’ll likely also add this one to our festive season night out calendar as well: A Christmas in Wales, a high-spirited musical version of the Dylan Thomas holiday classic, performed at the Jericho Arts Centre by the United Players of Vancouver.
Comedy fans also have plenty of reasons to laugh out loud this year. Granville Island’s Improv Centre is staging Back to the Holidays, a riotous homage to A Christmas Carol and Back to the Future where the audience shapes the action.
There’s a similar laugh-tastic approach over at Coquitlam’s Evergreen Arts Centre where the Studio Theatre is hosting Holiday Comedy Rumble: Every Elf for Themself, an improv extravaganza performed by Canadian Comedy Award winners, The Comedy Department.
The improv goes one step further with Blind Date at Vancouver’s Tightrope Impro Theatre, where one (hopefully willing) audience member is invited on to the stage for a very public blind date with the host! If you'd rather stay in your seat, though, check out the delightfully Pythonesque humour of Jamesy & Jamesy and their O Christmas Tea show––it's on tour in Metro Vancouver and beyond this year.
Dance it up
Yuletide entertainment wouldn't be complete without The Nutcracker, of course. And there are several local options to consider. Don’t miss Goh Ballet’s revered annual production at downtown’s Queen Elizabeth Theatre. But also consider visiting troupe, Ballet Victoria’s, unique Gift of the Nutcracker interpretation.
Dance fans should also add a couple of other productions to their calendar. Performed by Lamondance, A Winter’s Twist is an energetic, festive-flavoured version of Romeo and Juliet. The Richmond Academy Of Dance is also back once again with its holiday show, Dance Into Christmas. The school’s students will be joined onstage by guest artistes from Les Grands Ballets Canadiens.
Sounds like Christmas
Music fan? Early Music Vancouver’s soaring Handel’s Messiah at the Orpheum will be a spine-tingling holiday highlight for many this year. And Winter Harp’s costumed performers will also be playing their traditional songs and carols on stages around the region.
Christmas with the Bach Choir is also back at the Orpheum this year––complete with more than 400 singers––while over at Coquitlam’s Evergreen you’ll also find the lovely Pacific Symphonic Wind Ensemble playing Christmastime favourites and much more.
If the holidays are all about soaring choral music for you, there are lots of options to consider. The beloved Christmas with Chor Leoni concerts are back again this year. The male voice choir will be offering their delightful renditions and unique arrangements of classic songs and carols.
Coquitlam’s Evergreen also has a couple of great choices: the energetic Coastal Sound choir is offering two shows while JUNO-nominated musica intima is on stage here a few days later. And if you want to join in, book ahead for North Vancouver’s Presentation House Theatre where their rousing Holiday Singalong––song sheets provided––is likely to bring the house down!